Too Many Desserts

by wjw on August 9, 2016

IMG_3734Friday night with the Tall Ships was a massive disappointment.  I signed up for a “VIP Fireworks Viewing” from the brig Niagara, and they’d sent me a schedule telling me that food and beverage would appear on the quay at 8:30, we’d go aboard at 9:00, and the fireworks would start at 9:15.

Somehow I assumed that the ship would actually sail someplace.  I mean, why else go on board a sailing vessel to see fireworks?  Let alone a warship with bulwarks and lots of rigging in the way of the show?

Also, I assumed that the food and beverage, being served at suppertime, would be supper or something like it.  Instead it was dessert— about fifteen kinds of sweets in fact, served with some of the finer wines of Wisconsin.

(I’m just not a dessert person.  I don’t have sweets in the house usually, and I rarely order dessert in a restaurant.  So following the fireworks I found myself wandering around downtown Green Bay looking for a restaurant that could serve me some actual food.  Even on a Friday night, it seems, Green Bay shuts down at 9pm, and I wandered for quite a while before I found a bar that would serve me something called a “breakfast burger on a pretzel bun,” which to my surprise was actually pretty good.  Or maybe I was just really hungry.)

So anyway I paid good money to eat sweets I didn’t really want, and view a fireworks show that I could have seen for free from the quay.

The fireworks were pretty nice, though.

On Saturday I showed up bright and early to get in line to view the galleon Andalucía, and ended up waiting for 75 minutes in the hot August sun.  If I hadn’t needed to view the ship for my current writing project, I would have blown it off.  The line for Niagara, which I finally got to see in daylight, was much shorter, and the two were an interesting contrast.  Andalucía was built in Spain as an exhibit, and below decks was designed for tourists to walk upright.  Niagara was a replica warship with no real headroom, though being an experienced sailor I only shattered my skull on the deckhead once.

Have I mentioned that the water of Green Bay is actually green?  A darkish, rather peaty green in fact.

IMG_3672Here’s Pride of Baltimore II as viewed from When and If.  You can see the very tall, very raked masts that were a feature of the Baltimore Clipper, and which could carry an enormous spread of canvas that drove these schooners through the water at nigh-unheard-of speeds.  I spoke to one of the crew on the schooner Appledore, which mentioned that his vessel was able to keep up with Pride of Baltimore in light winds, but once the wind picked up the clipper was out of sight in no time.

Note, by the way, the authentic War of 1812 flag, with fifteen stripes and stars.

A Baltimore African American who served aboard American Privateers throughout the War of 1812 Original location - Vertical File medium portraits
A Baltimore African American who served aboard American Privateers throughout the War of 1812
Original location – Vertical File medium portraits

Pride of Baltimore is based on a War of 1812 Baltimore privateer called the Chasseur, which captured 36 British vessels during the course of the war.  Chasseur operated for part of its career from our co-belligerent France, and made most of its captures in British home waters.  At one point, Captain Boyle sent George III a proclamation declaring that he was placing the British Isles under blockade.  Which you might find a fanciful bit of provocation, but it sent British maritime insurance rates up 30%.

One of Chasseur’s crew was a free black man named George Roberts.  It wasn’t at all unusual for a warship to have black crewmen, but it was unusual for one of them to survive long enough to be photographed.  Roberts died in 1861 at the age of 95, and was a feature in Baltimore’s Old Defenders parades, where he always appeared in uniform as a major general’s aide.

Chasseur was one of the very few privateers to have captured a regular navy vessel, the schooner St. Lawrence, itself a former American privateer captured and bought into the Royal Navy.  The battle lasted about fifteen minutes and was very one-sided, but was fought after peace had been concluded.

IMG_3654Here’s Appledore viewed from over the stern of When and If.  I enjoyed sail-aways on both vessels.

That evening, after a shower and a change of clothes, I went to Brett Favre’s steakhouse, which was just across the parking lot from my hotel.  Unbeknownst to me, Favre was in the process of being inducted into the Football Hall of Fame at that moment, and apparently giving the World’s Longest Acceptance Speech, Ever.

I have high standards for Midwestern chop houses, and I regret to say that Favre’s did not quite come up to scratch.  The steak was good but not great, and not worth the $40 I paid for it.  My cocktail was nice, and the wine selection limited but very good.  The starters were unimaginative but okay, I guess. My waitress was terrific.

Favre should have spent more time with his menu than with his acceptance speech.  The selections are just not interesting or imaginative enough, and he’s charging forty bucks for a twenty-five dollar steak.  By eight o’clock on a Saturday night there were only three tables occupied, and the other two (judging from overheard conversations) were occupied by diehard Packers fans willing to pay whatever it took to eat some food branded by their hero.

Sorry to say, but the breakfast burger on a pretzel bun may have been the culinary highlight of the trip.

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